10 November 2014
The Biblical Beguiler
To most people with a younger sibling manipulation is almost like a second language.
Whether it is making doing their chores for them sound “super” exciting or trading them a
“magic” pencil for the five dollars they just received, manipulation, even at a harmless amount, is common in today’s society. In
The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer creates some characters whose manipulative actions are more disastrous to the people around them than innocent trickery. The Pardoner and the Wife of Bath both manipulate the people around them for their own gain, but the Pardoner proves to be more harmful due to the great number of people he affects.
The Pardoner uses his religious authority to manipulate people into giving him money to be able to touch or kiss his made up relics. As long as he gets what he wants and the people he encounters do not uncover his lies, he feels no guilt in what he does. The Pardoner does whatever it takes to trick people into giving him money: “And thus, with false flattery and tricks / he made monkeys of the parson and the people” (G.P. lines 70708). This illustrates how selfish and deceptive he is by earning a living off of making fools out of people that do not know any better.
When it is the Pardoner’s turn to tell a tale he preaches that “money is the root of all evil” which is ironic because he values money the most in life (Pard. Tale line 6). His tale talks about how money and greed can turn people against each other to the point of killing each other. In his
prologue he tells the other people on the pilgrimage “all my preaching is about avarice/ and such cursed sins, in order to make them / give freely of their pennies––namely, to me” (Pard. Prologue lines 7274). This gives the reader a better understanding of how the Pardoner takes advantage of people. He preaches against greed so that the people he teaches to do not suspect him as someone who would take their money for his own gain. Although, the Pardoner is not the most wonderful person, he is not the only one who takes advantage of others
The Wife of Bath manipulates her first three husbands by accusing them of what she does so that they would not suspect that she is doing anything wrong. She believes that as long as they get what they want it does no harm if there is more she shares with other men. Despite sexualizing women she seems to be an extremely strong female. Before she tells her tale she talks about her having five different husbands and she spends a long time justifying her actions and trying to use her knowledge of scripture to back her up. She constantly brings up how God does not, “prohibit marriage” or “command virginity” to try to prove to people that there is nothing wrong with what she is doing (WoB Prologue lines 60, 62). The reason why she tries to defend herself may be because she knows that what she does is not right, and therefore she spends her time finding reasons to justify herself. Her tale clearly demonstrates how she feels towards relationships. In her tale a knight has to search to find what women desire most in order to keep his life and what he finds is, “‘Women desire to have dominion / over their husbands as well as their lovers, / and to be above them in mastery’” (WoB Tale lines 18284). This shows how the Wife of Bath has a need for…